Making Sunshine with a Little Help from Friends
The show ended with a crowded stage and The Beatles’ song, “A Little Help from My Friends”. Perhaps it was a predictable song for an “and Friends” show, but when you have friends (and family) like Alyssa Bonagura, you can get away with a moment of predictability.
Bonagura, at 26 years old, has a musical resume that would be impressive for someone twice her age. Born into a musical family (her parents were the core of the hit country music band Baillie and the Boys), Alyssa began singing when she was just two years old and recorded with Kenny Rogers when she was ten. Later, she attended Paul McCartney’s Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. Her pedigree and training were evident in rousing set of her original songs and a well placed cover of Patty Griffin’s “One Big Love”.
Backed by a tight band, Bonagura comfortable and confidently breezy set was highlighted by guests that included hit songwriter Jeffrey Steele, Nashville guitar prodigy Matt Tedder, and her famous parents. Highlights included: “Hippies and Gypsies,” about finding a used Martin guitar in a thrift shop in North Dakota; “Home Again,” from her debut CD The English Diaries, written during her time in Liverpool; and “I Make My Own Sunshinem” which was featured in a commerical for Lowes.
Bonagura is a well-trained talent with a winning personality, and she put on a professional and entertaining show, and then she let some of her friends do their thing. Her friends included talented singer-songwriters Rebecca Correia and Harrison Whitford, Nashville legend Billy Block’s talented teenaged sons, rockers Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown (The Shakedown were Bonagura’s band for the night), Morgan Evans (one of the top Country music artists from Australia), and the aforementioned Matt Tedder, who wowed the crowd with his slide guitar skills and original songs.
Alyssa Bonagura and her band retook the stage for a couple more original songs, and then they were joined by several of the guests and Brad Whitford (of Aerosmith and the father of Alyssa’s boyfriend and guitar player Graham Whitford) for a powerful version of “Crossroads,” followed by the aforementioned, forgivably predictable Beatles’ song.
Youthful Austin rocker Hunter Sharpe opened the set with a high energy set of loud music.